Alberta government freezes tuition for another year
Post-secondary student groups applaud the move, say long-term plan still needed
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A student association is gingerly applauding the Alberta government’s decision to freeze tuition for the 2018-19 school year and compensate schools for the revenue difference.
Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt announced the extension of the post-secondary tuition freeze Thursday morning.
“To put it nicely, students are very happy today. This is obviously good news,” said Reed Larsen, VP External of the University of Alberta Students’ Union and Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS).
“But we do remain cautiously optimistic.”
Larsen said government has worked well with CAUS, but the council is still concerned that the freeze does not address other areas of affordability, predictability and accessibility.
CAUS has called on the province to legislate tuition and tie any future increases to the Consumer Price Index and close all tuition loopholes.
The freeze does not apply to international students, which Larsen said is also a significant issue as international students make up about 18 per cent of the U of A’s student body.
“There have been multiple instances of international students being priced out of education because of increases above even 10 and 15 per cent at some institutions,” Larsen said.
Tuition rose three per cent for international students at the U of A last year, and Larsen said even that relatively small increase accounted for an uptake in campus food bank use.
The U of A announced in October it is running a $14-million-dollar budget deficit for the 2017-2018 year and planning budget cuts to make up for the shortfall.
Gitta Kulczycki, the U of A’s vice president of finance and administration, cited a multi-year tuition freeze and changes to provincial funding as reasons for the shortfall at the time.
Schmidt said details about how the government will pay for the added freeze will be revealed in Spring 2018.
That's when the province will announce a new tuition and fees policy, which Schmidt said will also include a long-term funding strategy and an update on international student tuition.
He said he has heard concerns about international students “loud and clear.”